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KENNY SCHARF | ’Bismoland’, ‘Check Fest’ and ’Red Spiral Snake’
December 11th 2020
Swayed by pop culture and consumerism, Kenny Scharf swiftly became an integral part of the influential East Village art scene in the early eighties in New York; a diverse group of graffiti, hip hop and street artists. Trying to push the line between popular culture and art, his early cartoon-style work, informed by Flintstone and The Jetsons, shifted in the decades to come into colourful, smiley and stylised aliens blending into each other - a genre he framed as Pop Surrealism. Bismoland, Check Fest and Red Spiral Snake are three lithographic editions from the nineties released through Eyestorm, presenting different visual sides to Scharf’s urban art practice.
by Henrik Riis
NEWS FROM EYESTORM
By the start of the eighties, Soho on Manhattan’s lower west side had run out of wall space. The prestigious art galleries were representing far more established talent than they had white walls to hang their work on. Pop artists like Warhol, Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein, and the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists leading up to them, had fuelled a booming market for contemporary art in New York, casting a shadow on the younger artists ready and eager to be a part. Learning from history, this new generation of artists would soon enough shine the light on themselves.

What started as a distant rumble in the summer of 1980, as Metro Pictures opened its gallery on Mercer Street, accelerated to a full-blown artistic earthquake by a cohort of artist-led galleries and dealers who found affordable spaces in East Village; a rundown part of Manhattan within a short walking distance from the fashionable Soho.

Scharf moved to New York in the late seventies to study, graduating in 1980 with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. At a time where many artists were “exhibiting” in the dark subway stations and on abandoned brick walls, Scharf began staging the first of his many ‘Cosmic Caverns’; the artist’s immersive black light and Day-Glo painted room-installations that also functioned as a venue for disco parties. One of them legendarily installed in 1981 in the Times Square apartment he shared with fellow artist Keith Haring.
KENNY SCHARF
Red Spiral Snake, 1995

Edition of 20
76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
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KENNY SCHARF
Red Spiral Snake, 1995

Edition of 20
76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
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Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Kenny Scharf (American, b. 1958)
76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
6 colour lithograph on white Rives BFK paper.

Signed, titled and numbered on front.
Edition of 20
Available from a private collection
MAKE ENQUIRY
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Alongside Haring, famous for his bold black outline figures of barking dogs and crawling infants encircled by a halo of light, and Jean-Michele Basquiat graffiti style drawings and social commentary, Scharf quickly became central figure of the street art and hip-hop scene orbiting Club 57 and the Fun Gallery on East 10th Street. In ’82, Patti Astor, a charismatic and sociable B-movie star-turned-gallerist, had leased a space for $100 per month in the rough part of town to set up an anti-establishment gallery, the Fun Gallery, and she was now ready to offer the un-plastered wall space for Scharf’s first solo show. Despite a part of the ceiling falling to the floor the evening before - mistaken by many as an art installation on the opening night - the path was set not only for the Fun Gallery, which almost overnight became the hottest ticket in town, but also for Scharf on the New York art scene. Within a few years, the artist would become more and more recognised, known for his notable Bowery Mural in ’82 - and three years later, included in the Biennale at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, in 1958, Scharf grew up in post-war California, where he was immersed in television, popular culture and futuristic promises of a modern world. A huge influence which undeniably informed his art later in life. Once settled in New York and by the time of his graduation, he had found a fellowship among other artists who got inspiration from the work of the Pop-artists and the Minimalists - and took it a step further by experimenting with media and exploring American consumerism. Springing from this a myriad of new art movements emerged from the mid-seventies. Some movements would end up as a footnote in art history, and others would define the artists that today are household names; Jeff Koons for his immaculate Neo-Pop, Keith Haring’s spray-can graffiti art, and Robert Longo’s photo-realistic drawings, recognised for his part of the ‘Pictures Generation’. Though Scharf is working from a similar inspirational source of media and consumerism, he considers his works more as ‘Pop Surrealism’: compositions influenced by popular culture and presented in a surrealist’s expression. A movement he would define single-handedly.
KENNY SCHARF
Bismoland, 1994

Edition of 70
76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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KENNY SCHARF
Bismoland, 1994

Edition of 70
76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
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Kenny Scharf (American, b. 1958)

Bismoland , 1994

76(w) x 57(h) cm
29.92(w) x 22.44(h) inches
8 colour lithograph on white Rives BFK paper.

Signed, titled and numbered on front.
Edition of 70
PRICE
$ 2,000.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Often featuring recognisable pop culture icons from his childhood such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons, his signature style appearing in the nineties is of brightly coloured, psychedelic collages featuring wide-eyed, cartoon-style characters merged to form seas of slightly disturbing smiling faces. In Bismoland, the futuristic landscape shows zealous and communicative alien lifeforms and in Red Spiral Snake, a long snake with a bold, balloon-shaped head with a broad smile is swirling into the centre of the image, either travelling in space-time or unaware of the uncertain fate awaiting.

The representation of post-war American life in Check Fest, and the very similar ‘Squaresville’, brings Scharf back to his younger years in the fifties and sixties of nuclear families and suburban life. The blue squares, hinting encouraging technology advancements, and the yellow squares depicting cartoon characters in varied moods; some tranquil, happy or ecstatic - others distressed or angry. Although this block-coloured imagery is generally comical, Scharf has remarked that darker themes exist beneath the surface of his works, visible upon closer inspection. The caricatures in Squaresville, a slang-description of a place regarded as boring or conventional, are in fact completely the opposite. Here, it is rather a representation of the chaotic scenes of an apocalyptic vision of a world in disarray.
KENNY SCHARF
Check Fest, 1998

Edition of 18
57(w) x 76(h) cm
22.52(w) x 29.92(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
KENNY SCHARF
Check Fest, 1998

Edition of 18
57(w) x 76(h) cm
22.52(w) x 29.92(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Kenny Scharf (American, b. 1958)

Check Fest , 1998

57(w) x 76(h) cm
22.52(w) x 29.92(h) inches
4 colour lithograph on white Rives BFK paper.

Signed and numbered on front

This is an Artist Proof edition.
Edition of 18
Available from a private collection
MAKE ENQUIRY
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Kenny Scharf has enjoyed a long and successful career and a working practice spanning across painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance. Exhibited widely with numerous solo shows and inclusions in retrospective shows, the artist’s works have been prominently presented in the eighties-themed group show ‘Club 57’ at Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), ‘Fast Forward: Paintings from the 1980’s’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art - and in the highly acclaimed exhibition of graffiti and street art, ‘Beyond the Streets’, in Brooklyn in 2018. Scharf’s interpretation of urban modernity forms part of several permanent collections in museums around the world. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.

Representing Scharf’s body of works from the nineties, three lithographic editions were released in a collaboration between the artist and Eyestorm. The compositions were drawn by Scharf on aluminium plates, hand printed and manually pulled on Rives BFK paper. Red Spiral Snake is an edition of 20 and comparably smaller to the edition size of Check Fest and Bismoland. The lithographs are signed, titled and numbered by the artist on front.

You can find more details about the three lithographic editions on Kenny Scharf’s artist page here.
 
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INTEREST IN EARLY PRINT EDITIONS BY LUCIE BENNETT
Pink Knickers
For more than a decade Lucie Bennett has been seducing viewers with her silhouette line drawings of haunting sirens, alluring pin-ups and supernatural nymphs. Her print editions from 2005 - 2012 are increasingly being requested by collectors.

If you own a print, such as Pink Knickers, Green Felt Tip Girl or Red Felt Tip Girl and you wish to sell, we have clients who are looking for select pieces. You can get in touch with us via the Contact page, which you can find here.
 
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